A new study conducted by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware may point the way to better treatment approaches for common knee injuries such as meniscus tears. The study reports that fibrocartilage tissue in the knee contains a more diverse molecular structure than previously understood, and that this new knowledge will better inform our understanding of how these tissues respond—and degenerate—with mechanical inputs such as walking, running, and other physical activity. The research appears this week online ahead of print in the journal Nature Materials.
The research team found that knee meniscus tissue, mostly comprised of aligned fibers providing strength and stiffness, also contain “microdomains” that are small nonfibrous regions with different compositions and different mechanical properties. Although these microdomains were found to be present in young, healthy tissue, they grow larger with advancing age, or in the presence of injury or osteoarthritis, suggesting that microdomain size is related to disease onset and decreased tissue function. The team hypothesizes that this may be because the aligned fibrous regions are better at translating mechanical inputs such as deformation into biochemical signals that surrounding cells can use.
Read a news story about the research here.
The article abstract may be read here.